Trend specialist Sue Barrett of London-based consultancy Denim Forum references vintage, real time and future trend predictions into her creative yet commercially relevant work, which targets all levels of the supply chain.


How has the “fashion for good” attitude rubbed off on denim specifically–what steps are mills taking to opt in?
Denim is often called out as a democratic fabric, worn by anyone at any event, which makes it the perfect vehicle for change. Cone Mills s/s ’21 offering features a “Cone Community Collection” with two selvedge lines. Made with Repreve and pre-reduced liquid indigo–which reduces water consumptions, chemicals and energy–the collection corresponds to two causes that have widespread global impact. A pink selvedge has been developed in support of breast cancer, while a rainbow-hued selvedge has been brought out in support of Pride and the LGBT community.



On a wider scale, what’s stirring at the mills in terms of trends and tendencies?
Sustainable developments have been on the denim menu for years but they were always sidelined as a separate product group of about five fabrics. Speaking to mill agents, it’s clear we’re at the tipping point now–brands could not absorb the additional fabric costs for sustainable options in the past, but times are changing as the law of supply and demand is shifting as a result of legislation and awareness. In the denim community, designers are really challenging mills to reflect their commitment through increased proof of reduced toxic waste and energy. It helps that the “leaders of cool”–from huge players such as Kering to independent brands like Story Mf–clearly state their commitment to both social and environmental issues.


What innovations are about to surface as a direct result of the eco-wave?
End of life of garment is a game-changing concept for designers and developers. Compostable and biodegradable products and monofiber usage is a huge shift in mindset for both designs and consumers to enable reduced waste and impact. Textile innovation companies Evernu and Re.newcell are have come up with a way to liquefy discarded cellulosic textiles and create new fibers as circular resources.


Tell us about the denim aesthetic of the future...
The cross-pollination of sports, soft tailoring, couture and denim creates a hotbed for new tweedy and neppy looking denim characteristics that reflect vintage imperfections and also embrace post-consumer and recycled fibers with natural rustic characteristics.


And in terms of denim washes?
The trend for tie-dye pattern continues, creating the perfect platform for new mottled plant-based patterns with reduced environmental impact. Plant-based dyeing workshops have taken off on the heels of indigo workshops, exploring edible agricultural and herbal waste, which is both natural and compostable. Thinking carefully about the chemicals behind color is integral to the emerging bio-design movement. There’s a fantastic quote from Katy Al-Rubeyi at Story Mfg, in which she communicates the shift in awareness regarding the way toxic waste affects our environment and our bodies: “If the chemicals in clothing were packaged into a cream you’d never let it anywhere near your skin–so why ignore it in the things we wear?”


What particular dyeing techniques are on your radar?
Tonello recently developed their Wake concept that uses plant dyes as high-performing alternatives for color dyeing. Meanwhile, Logwood has developed deep purple and black shades that have health-giving properties, with the ability to allegedly calm an overactive heart. Madder Root creates rich orange and red tones known for their naturally detoxifying properties that can be used for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Even eco blacks are now possible–a game-changer for the dominant black streetwear market that has traditionally relied on petroleum-based carbon black pigments that have carcinogenic properties. Nature Coatings have come up with high-performing black pigments made from wood waste. Finally, working with local resources is also a key call-out, and Orta Anadolu has created a brown tint for their s/s ’21 collection, using rich red-brown clay local to their manufacturing plant in Kayseri, Turkey.


Editor's note: This article runs in our current "Denim Sourcing Issue", #292. Please also check out the e-paper version for more information.


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